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Senator Don Gaetz, District 1 — Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

April 26, 2013

CONTACT: Katie Betta, (850) 487-5229


Florida Senate Passes Bill Outlining National Mortgage Settlement Funds

Focusing on Housing Needs of Persons with Disabilities, Elderly and Extremely Low Income Floridians

Tallahassee, Florida —

The Florida Senate today passed Senate Bill 1852 regarding more than $200 million in National Mortgage Settlement funds available to be appropriated by the Florida Legislature during the 2013 Legislative Session. The bill, which received unanimous support, was immediately certified to the Florida House and is outlined below.
 
“Attorney General Pam Bondi helped negotiate a national mortgage foreclosure settlement with banks and finance companies, securing more than $8 billion in relief of Floridians, $200 million of which the Florida Legislature has the responsibility to appropriate,” said Senate President Don Gaetz (R-Niceville). “I am proud of the Florida Senate for passing a plan to allocate this important funding and for Senator Gardiner’s unwavering leadership in reaching agreement with our colleagues in the Florida House. By focusing this one-time infusion of resources on those most in need of housing assistance, we are making targeted investments that improve the availability of affordable housing options for thousands of persons with disabilities, elders and extremely low income Floridians.”
 
“I am confident that these efforts, in addition to funding to decrease the backlog in our courts, will get Florida’s housing market back on track and get many of our citizens back into homes,” concluded President Gaetz.
 
$159 million – Housing Assistance Focused on Persons with Disabilities, Elders, and Extremely Low Income Floridians

  • $60 million through the State Apartment Incentive Loan (SAIL) Program.

             o   $10 million for rental developments in which 10 to 25 percent of the units are designed
                   for individuals with developmental disabilities;
             o   $25 million for the elderly;
             o   $25 million extremely low income persons.

  • $40 million for the State Housing Initiatives Partnership Program (SHIP) to be used for:

              o   Rehabilitating or modifying owner-occupied houses (including blighted homes
                   and neighborhoods);
              o   Assisting low income families to purchase existing housing;
              o   Providing housing counseling services;
              o   Providing lease-purchase assistance; and
              o   Implementing other approved strategies to assist households impacted by
                   foreclosure, using existing housing stock.
              o   20 percent of the SHIP funds must be used for persons with special needs,
                    which includes disabled veterans, former foster care young adults, and
                    domestic violence survivors. First priority for these funds will be for persons
                    with developmental disabilities. The funds will be used for home
                    modifications, including technological enhancements and devices which
                    will allow homeowners to live independently and safely in their own homes.   

  • $50 million In Competitive Grants for Housing for Floridians who are Disabled, Homeless or Who Have Been the Victims of  Domestic Violence:

              o   $20 million for rehabilitation of existing housing for low-income persons throughout
                    Habitat for Humanity;
              o   $20 million for competitive grants for housing for homeless individuals and
                    persons with disabilities; and
              o   $10 million for competitive grants creating more domestic violence center beds.

  • $ 9.1million for Take Stock in Children to purchase prepaid dormitory contracts for students in grade 10 and 11 who are participating in the Florida Prepaid Tuition Scholarship Program.   

$41 million – Support for Judicial Branch to Address Foreclosure Cases

  • State Courts –$31 million to address the foreclosure backlog: 
  • $16 million for temporary court staffing;
  • $9.7 million for temporary staffing for the clerks of court; and
  • $5.3 million for court technology improvements.
  • Legal Aid Programs– $10 million for legal aid services for low and moderate-income individuals experiencing foreclosure, or at eminent risk of foreclosure on their homestead residence.

Background on the National Mortgage Settlement
 
Attorney General Pam Bondi entered into a joint federal-state agreement ($25 billion nationwide settlement for monetary relief) with the nation's five largest mortgage servicers over foreclosure abuses and unacceptable nationwide mortgage servicing practices.  The agreement provides an estimated $8.4 billion in relief to Florida to address the mortgage foreclosure crisis by providing a variety of services to troubled borrowers including loan modifications, refinancing relief for underwater loans, partial payment for relief from improper foreclosures proceedings, and preventable foreclosure assistance. 
 
The State of Florida is receiving a payment of approximately $334 million.  Pursuant to the settlement agreement, each state shall designate the uses of the funds. To the extent practicable, such funds shall be used for the purposes intended to avoid preventable foreclosures, to ameliorate the effects of the foreclosure crisis, to enhance law enforcement efforts to prevent and prosecute financial fraud, or unfair or deceptive acts or practices and to compensate the States for costs resulting from the alleged unlawful conduct of the Defendants.  Such permissible purposes for allocation of the funds include, but are not limited to, supplementing the amounts paid to state homeowners under the Borrower Payment Fund, funding for housing counselors, state and local foreclosure assistance hotlines, state and local foreclosure mediation programs, legal assistance, housing remediation and anti-blight projects, funding for training and staffing of financial fraud or consumer protections enforcement efforts and civil penalties.
 
Florida’s share of the total monetary benefits under the settlement is approximately $8.4 billion:

  • $7.6billion for loan modifications, principal reductions, other loss mitigations for short sales, etc..
  • $309million for refinancing relief to “underwater” loans based on certain criteria.
  • $170million for Floridians who have lost homes as partial payment for injury for improper servicing or foreclosure defects ($1,800-$2,000 per case).
  • $334 million to the State of Florida for foreclosure related programs.

              o   $74 million of the $334 million has already been transferred to General Revenue for civil
                    penalties.
              o   $60 million of disbursements previously made by the Attorney General ($5 million) or
                    approved by the Legislative Budget Commission during the interim ($55 million).
                    ~  $35 million for Florida Housing Finance Corporation (FHFC) down payment assistance
                    ~  $10 million for FHFC counseling
                    ~  $ 5 million for legal aid services in 7 regions (statewide)
                    ~  $ 5 million for the State Courts to assist with foreclosure issues
                    ~  $ 5 million for Attorney General reimbursements
                o   The remaining $200 million is available for the Legislature to appropriate during the 2013
                     Session.

 

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